Ready For 2021? Not if You’re Uncomfortable with Uncertainty and Change

By Bill Higgs
2021

If you feel an overwhelming sense of unease anytime life tosses an extra helping of uncertainty and change your way, then 2020 must have been an even rougher year for you than it was for the rest of us – and that was pretty rough. And while we are now all happily saying farewell to this dreadful year, be forewarned: It’s all but guaranteed that 2021 will bring its own version of the unexpected, and you better be ready.

I know this not because of any extraordinary soothsaying abilities, but simply because the future is always uncertain, and things change constantly. And then they change again. And again. You can count on it.

To illustrate that point, let me take you on a quick journey not into the future but into the past.

If you are over 50, you probably started working before computers were ubiquitous, because the first personal computer didn’t even come on the market until the early 1980s and it was a few years before their use became widespread.

If you’re in your 40s, you began working before email came into wide use, which was in the mid-1990s. And if you are in your 30s, your arrival in the workplace may have predated the routine use of smartphones on the job.

That’s a lot of technological change to get comfortable within just the last 35 years or so.

At Mustang Engineering, the company I helped found, we made sure everyone was comfortable with uncertainty and change because our industry was not static – not by a longshot. We constantly needed to adjust our people, systems, and execution methodologies to match the needs of our clients.

To accomplish this, our approach was to keep everyone moving, something we called “Mustang Motion.”

Mustang Motion operated on this philosophy: When people stay too long in a physical space, they tend to settle in – which may sound like a good thing but isn’t because people get set in their ways. They start defending their “turf” and they stop thinking creatively about different ways to do things.

To prevent such entrenchment at Mustang, we moved people’s offices constantly. We didn’t want anyone to get stuck in a job or a on project. We wanted them to finish projects and move on to the next one.

We even routinely changed the office surroundings. Every few weeks, old pictures and announcements would come down in the break rooms and coffee bars, and new ones would go up.

All of our efforts regarding Mustang Motion were intended to get people accustomed to change so that they would accept it, embrace it, look forward to it, and laugh about it.

It’s no different for you and your company today and throughout 2021. The way you work, manage, lead, sell, market, manufacture, travel, communicate, stay in touch, pay bills, and do everything else is constantly changing.

That’s why you need to be ready in 2021 to adapt to the changing needs of your clients, customers, vendors, and employees. If you don’t, your competitors certainly will.